RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on Wednesday upped the ante on the issue of headcount of Other Backward Classes by declaring that he will not allow any census in Bihar unless the Centre acceded to the demand for coming out with the numbers of OBCs, besides the SCs and the STs.
Yadav also lambasted the BJP for having displayed an anti-social justice mindset by getting Union minister Nityanand Rai, incidentally an OBC from Bihar himself, to give a written statement in Parliament that the government will not take up a headcount of social groups other than Dalits and tribals.
BJP has been an anti-social justice party. Two times have resolutions been passed unanimously by the Bihar assembly in favour of a caste census. But the Centre, and Union minister Mr Rai have shown their reluctance in writing. Without this, we will not allow any census in Bihar, Yadav tweeted.
Notably, Yadav was part of a delegation headed by the Bihar Chief Minister, that met Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year to press the demand for caste census.
The RJD leader, who is the leader of the opposition in the state assembly, was also of the view that if the Centre did not agree, the state government should consider an exercise making use of its own resources .
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has, in principle, agreed to such a state-specific exercise though it has been hanging fire for want of the BJP’s willingness to attend an all-party meeting to discuss the modalities.
Of late, Yadav has been charging Kumar with dragging his feet and wondering where was the need for yet another meeting after two unanimously passed resolutions in the state legislature where BJP members had also voted in tow.
Quotas for OBCs have been an article of faith for political leaders like Nitish Kumar and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad who owe their rise to prominence to the social churning that took place in the Mandal era.
It has been their contention that the last time a caste census took place was in 1921 and a fresh exercise could ascertain current population of various social groups and enable better formulation of policies.
Meanwhile, the BJP which draws its support primarily from the upper castes but has been aggressively trying to win over a section of OBCs and Dalits, hit back at Tejashwi Yadav.
BJP OBC Morcha national general secretary and state spokesman Nikhil Anand came out with a statement underscoring his party’s practical approach towards social justice which got reflected in many historic decisions of the Narendra Modi government.
Anand cited constitutional status to OBC Commission, inclusion of 27 OBCs in the Union cabinet, and quotas in the pre-medical test NEET and Kendriya and Navodaya Vidyalayas and Sainik schools as proof of the Modi government’s wonderful job on the social justice front.
He also alleged that the previous UPA government at the Centre, of which the RJD was a part, had indulged in a scam by splurging Rs 5500 crore on a caste headcount that fell outside the purview of the Census Act and, hence, had no legal validity and the report of which was shelved as it caused an embarrassing number of 10 crore errors .
Anand demanded an inquiry into the fraud whereby the UPA had helped its favoured private agencies and NGOs to mint money in the name of collecting data as part of the exercise.